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Blogging for Readers

Is your blog Reader-Centric? Yuk, I know, horrible buzz word, but stay with me!

What I am asking is important to your blog success; how well do you cater for your reader when working on your blog?

In the programming world people talk about “user centric” where the users needs are elevated and in customer service people like to think of their systems and procedures as being “customer centric” where the needs of customers come first. It’s all about prioritizing the end user, the person who you wanted to attract and serve in the first place.

We might think we are being reader centric with our blogs, but there are tensions and motivations in blogging that pull us away from this goal.

Of course there are many types of blog. My personal blog is written with no audience goals, no monetization goals, no agenda. It just is what it is. As Lorelle says, some people build blogs for their own needs.

Most of us though are looking to attract and entertain, inform or communicate with an audience. This means the audience has to be priority number one. What might get in the way of this?

  • Money – You may have seen the many complaints about the loud audio, distracting animations and effects, and general in-your-faceness of the advertising at Digg? It got to the point where Kevin Rose had to step in and pledge to sort it out. If a site of the scale of Digg can have a member revolt over advertising, you can be sure a blog is not going to survive anti-reader advertising. Rip-off affiliate links and insincere reviews are also a real danger.
  • Ego – When it is all me-me-me rather than focused on what readers need, want, enjoy, then you have slipped away from what attracted your readers in the first place. It’s simple, give them what they want
  • Promotion – Are those link-swaps in your blogroll helping your reader? Did that linkbait attract abusive comments along with the spike in traffic? Will that headline mislead people into clicking? Do you really need those sexy avatar pictures? It sometimes amazes me what people will do to attract new visitors without a concern for their existing subscribers.
  • Widgets – Some bloggers are like magpies – ooh, shiny! Yes, by all means experiment with the latest doodad, but do not fill your blog with them to the detriment of your content.

There are probably many more distractions that you can think of. The fact is most blogs are started with a goal in mind, to make money, market a business, personal branding, etc. Our initial motivation might not be to “attract and appeal to an audience”, that challenge is often just the means to an end. Without working for our audience though we will never achieve what we set out to do.

Before you reap any rewards, with blogging you have to serve your audience. That means putting readers first.

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Comments

  1. ChrisG – Great post. Lovin’ your feed. This is defintely something to keep in mind when my traffic gets to the point of receiving some sort of decent feedback.

    I know you are a busy guy, but I’d appreciate any comments you might have about the presentation of the content on my blog.

  2. ChrisG – Great post. Lovin’ your feed. This is defintely something to keep in mind when my traffic gets to the point of receiving some sort of decent feedback.

    I know you are a busy guy, but I’d appreciate any comments you might have about the presentation of the content on my blog.

  3. Well said, Chris. While what we write on our blogs are about “us” and our needs, when we hit the publish button, it becomes about who reads. We can never forget them.

  4. Well said, Chris. While what we write on our blogs are about “us” and our needs, when we hit the publish button, it becomes about who reads. We can never forget them.

  5. @PT – I think the content column needs white space on the left, and I would get rid of the blogrush widget

    @Lorelle – Yup, just like in face to face communication, “enough about me … what do YOU think about me?” soon gets dull :)

  6. @PT – I think the content column needs white space on the left, and I would get rid of the blogrush widget

    @Lorelle – Yup, just like in face to face communication, “enough about me … what do YOU think about me?” soon gets dull :)

  7. Chris, you’ve made some interesting points here. I recently subscribed to your blog, and am enjoying going through your archived posts to learn as much as possible (and as quickly as possible).

    You bring up an interesting point about blog rolls, whether they are helping your readers or not. I’ve got a pretty good list of blogs on my blog roll, and all of them are those I currently subscribe to (including yours).

    Speaking only for myself, I don’t use my blog roll as “link bait”, with selfish hopes that these blogs will link back to my blog. My blog roll is simply showcasing the blogs that I recommend for my readers and visitors to check out for themselves.

    A recent comment on my blog by one of my readers pointed out the fact that I (at that time) only had four blogs on my blog roll. It occurred to me that showcasing blogs that I find of interest and subscribe to just might be of interest to my readers/visitors, so now I have a much longer list.

    It’s interesting that there are so many varying opinions on link exchanges or link swaps as you put it. One “A-lister” might say it hurts your blog’s authority and rank, while another blogger like Courtney Tuttle recently posted the immense benefits derived from it. So, I’m confused on that one, but I guess I just have to see what works for me.

  8. Chris, you’ve made some interesting points here. I recently subscribed to your blog, and am enjoying going through your archived posts to learn as much as possible (and as quickly as possible).

    You bring up an interesting point about blog rolls, whether they are helping your readers or not. I’ve got a pretty good list of blogs on my blog roll, and all of them are those I currently subscribe to (including yours).

    Speaking only for myself, I don’t use my blog roll as “link bait”, with selfish hopes that these blogs will link back to my blog. My blog roll is simply showcasing the blogs that I recommend for my readers and visitors to check out for themselves.

    A recent comment on my blog by one of my readers pointed out the fact that I (at that time) only had four blogs on my blog roll. It occurred to me that showcasing blogs that I find of interest and subscribe to just might be of interest to my readers/visitors, so now I have a much longer list.

    It’s interesting that there are so many varying opinions on link exchanges or link swaps as you put it. One “A-lister” might say it hurts your blog’s authority and rank, while another blogger like Courtney Tuttle recently posted the immense benefits derived from it. So, I’m confused on that one, but I guess I just have to see what works for me.

  9. You should be blogging for yourself. Do things how you like them. If you’re trying to become someone you’re not, the fun will soon be gone and it’ll take the quality of your blog down with it.

    No quality equals no readers.

  10. You should be blogging for yourself. Do things how you like them. If you’re trying to become someone you’re not, the fun will soon be gone and it’ll take the quality of your blog down with it.

    No quality equals no readers.

  11. @Lin – As always you have to see what works. What I would say though is an audience has only so much patience for anything that doesn’t make sense for them. Something tucked away in a corner will not matter so much, but these things add up to an overall tone of self indulgence sometimes

    @John – Write a blog without thinking about the audience? Blogging for yourself is tantamount to talking to yourself. Personally I prefer communicating with other people :) (To be fair my personal blog is written without concern for any goal, specific audience or agenda). What I recommend is we write to communicate something worthwhile to our audience to our own satisfaction. IE. Do the best you can to serve your reader. If the reader can not answer “what’s in it for me?” or “so what?” then we have failed, which also means no quality.

  12. @Lin – As always you have to see what works. What I would say though is an audience has only so much patience for anything that doesn’t make sense for them. Something tucked away in a corner will not matter so much, but these things add up to an overall tone of self indulgence sometimes

    @John – Write a blog without thinking about the audience? Blogging for yourself is tantamount to talking to yourself. Personally I prefer communicating with other people :) (To be fair my personal blog is written without concern for any goal, specific audience or agenda). What I recommend is we write to communicate something worthwhile to our audience to our own satisfaction. IE. Do the best you can to serve your reader. If the reader can not answer “what’s in it for me?” or “so what?” then we have failed, which also means no quality.

  13. Well…we like talking to ourselves. so there :)

  14. Well…we like talking to ourselves. so there :)

  15. Whatever floats your boat(s) :) I am happy with the idea that blogging need not have any motive other than the joy of the process, I love blogging and would continue even if I won a huge lottery win or found I was married Bill Gates due to some comedic legal mix up :)

  16. Whatever floats your boat(s) :) I am happy with the idea that blogging need not have any motive other than the joy of the process, I love blogging and would continue even if I won a huge lottery win or found I was married Bill Gates due to some comedic legal mix up :)

  17. I found your twitter account and it led me here.

    Wow, I missed tons of posts. Just got back from reading your blog Chris.

    Just when I came back, you killed me on the money and widgets part.

    Keep it up, I’ll be back for more.

    By the way I’m at http://twitter.com/kidblogger :)

  18. I found your twitter account and it led me here.

    Wow, I missed tons of posts. Just got back from reading your blog Chris.

    Just when I came back, you killed me on the money and widgets part.

    Keep it up, I’ll be back for more.

    By the way I’m at http://twitter.com/kidblogger :)

  19. Hi Chris,

    A fantastic post, and sums up nicely some of my recent thoughts, unless your blog is for your own therapy (one of mine might just be!) you really need to be focussing on your readers.

    If nobody watches a TV program – it gets pulled, if nobody reads a magazine – they stop printing it, if nobody reads your blog (and your not writing it for the above reasons) then the question ultimately becomes why are you doing it…. It’s that old, “is there anybody out there?” question!

  20. Hi Chris,

    A fantastic post, and sums up nicely some of my recent thoughts, unless your blog is for your own therapy (one of mine might just be!) you really need to be focussing on your readers.

    If nobody watches a TV program – it gets pulled, if nobody reads a magazine – they stop printing it, if nobody reads your blog (and your not writing it for the above reasons) then the question ultimately becomes why are you doing it…. It’s that old, “is there anybody out there?” question!

  21. Nice post!

    We’ve been doing humor hook linkbait on the web since 1995 at Zug.com

    It would be great to get your feedback on the comedy linkbait angle!

  22. Nice post!

    We’ve been doing humor hook linkbait on the web since 1995 at Zug.com

    It would be great to get your feedback on the comedy linkbait angle!